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Three Key Things: The Leon Draisaitl show continues in Nashville, and Jack Campbell was brilliant in net

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Photo credit:@kennedystrash
baggedmilk
6 months ago
The Oilers’ season hasn’t started as we hoped in 2023-24, but the good news is that every new game day provides a chance to rebound. The boys were in Nashville last night to take on the Predators and try to lock in their first win of the season, and they did not disappoint as they demolished the home side to the tune of a 6-1 win.

LEON DRAISAITL, MAYOR AND EMPEROR OF NASHVILLE

At this point, it’s completely hilarious that Leon Draisaitl keeps destroying Nashville anytime he plays them because you can almost set your watch to it. It’s like he sees their logo, and his brain triggers Mega Draisaitl to emerge from the depths of handsome hell and destroy everything Preds fans hold dear. He kills their hope, pads his stats, ruins their night, and does it all while being the most handsome man in the room. I’m surprised Predators fans even bother showing up to the rink when the Oilers are in town because the likelihood of Draisaitl crushing their spirit is sky-high. Unless, of course, watching a handsome German do as he pleases out there is what sinks your submarine. It does the job for me. Anyway… the point I’m getting at is that watching Leon Draisaitl demolish the Nashville Predators over the past four years has been one of the greatest pleasures of my Oilers fandom. I don’t know why he owns the Preds the way he does — why them and not Columbus or Arizona — but it’s one of those random hockey mysteries I will love for the rest of my life. And last night, we got another chapter in this same beautiful story as Draisaitl picked up two goals and two assists for yet another multi-point night against the Preds.

JACK CAMPBELL’S BOUNCE BACK NIGHT

As much as it was fun to watch the Oilers pump goals into the net, a massive part of the story was the bounce-back night from Jack Campbell in net. Even though I don’t hang the season opener on Soup — Gord knows the team in front of him didn’t help much — I think we’d all agree that he can certainly be better. And last night, Campbell was rock solid for Edmonton and made the kinds of saves you need your starter to make if you win in this league. He looked calm in his crease, his rebound control was steady, and Soup gave the Oilers the kind of performance he had been during the pre-season when we were all saying he was back. And let’s be honest, there were plenty of moments when the Oilers needed Campbell to come up with a big save, and he was right there to give it to them. Listen, I get that the Oilers put six up on the board, but that may not have necessarily happened if they didn’t get the early saves to keep the game tied until they could pull ahead. I just think it’s important to give Soup some credit on a night when the offence was the bigger story. Jack Campbell was lights out in his second appearance of the season, and his performance gave his team a chance to win. Soup finished the night with 42 saves and a .977 save%.

THE SECOND LINE COMES THROUGH

If there’s one thing I love, it’s secondary scoring, and the Oilers got plenty of that from their second line last night in Nashville despite some folks thinking it would never work. On yesterday’s episode of Oilersnation Radio, we talked about the newly formed second line of Warren Foegele, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Zach Hyman. Jay Woodcroft had clearly decided to run with the nuclear option of McDavid and Draisaitl playing together, leaving FoeNuMan as a trio without a true driver to move the puck along. As a result, Tyler Yaremchuk did not believe in their ability to produce offence. In fact, Tyler said that if that line scored a goal at even strength, he would take a shot of Crown Royal on his live show today. Well, not only did that line score a goal at 5v5, but they actually gave on by each guy. By my count, that means my sweet Tyler should get a good buzz on if he upholds his end of the deal. I guess we’ll all have to tune into Oilersnation Everyday to find out for sure.

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING

  • It’s only the third game of the season but Connor McDavid has already given us one of the most ridiculous goals of the season after he spin-cycled Nashville’s defence before snapping a shot past Saros.
  • Make it goals (and even strength points) in back-to-back games for Girl Dad Nuge. After striking out in the opener, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins responded with six points (2G, 4A) in his last two games, kick-starting his season about as well as we could hope.
  • I know everyone is talking about Leon Draisaitl’s four-point night, but what about Zach Hyman? Hyman not only picked up his first goal of the year but he also added three assists for good measure, kicking off his scoring year in style.
  • Make it three games in a row with at least one PK-goal against. On the bright side, the power play came through with two goals on three chances with the man advantage so I guess that still counts as a special teams win.
  • I don’t mean to nitpick the win here, but I wasn’t a fan of seeing Edmonton give up 43 shots against. I know Soup was dialled in and everything, but that is way too many shots on goal for my liking. And don’t give me the “they were all outside shots” thing because Nashville had plenty of good looks from in tight too.
  • Props to the Nashville Predators for showing Mattias Ekholm some love in his first trip back since being traded. Ekholm admitted before the game that it would be an emotional one for him, and it was fun to see how appreciated he was by the fans in that city.

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